Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dark Beer Season Has Arrived!

As mentioned previously, Marco and I brewed a batch of "Phat Fired Weizenbock" (p.195). We used DME instead of LME (with the proper conversion), because it's not as messy to work with, even if it does take longer to dissolve. The recipe calls for 1.5 lbs of amber DME, but since we don't buy in bulk, we went with a 2 lb bag. For the crystal malt, we used a #80 roast. The store didn't have debittered black malt, so we substituted 1/8 lbs of regular black malt instead. The hop varieties called for were only available as pellets, while we prefer to use whole hops, so we substituted 2 oz of Hallertau for the boil (again, increasing to the nearest purchaseable unit), and Tettnang for the flavor and aroma. We used a Heffeweizen liquid ale yeast.

The boil (Oct. 13) smelled fantastic, as did the ongoing fermentation. We did, however, experience blow-off in the 6.5 gal Ale Pail. Since Marco didn't have the makings of a blow-off tube (that may change with our next shopping trip), I went over with the necessary equipment, and we got it cleaned up and safely bubbling into a bucket of santizing solution. When the blow-off ceased, Marco reinserted the normal airlock. The remainder of the fermentation was (externally) uneventful.

Yesterday we transferred it to Marco's new keg. It was still bubbling just over twice a minute, but it needed to be re-racked at that point, regardless, so we decided to let the fermentation complete in the keg. For reasons that aren't important, we didn't try it last night, so it'll most likely have another full week in keg under minimal pressure (enough to seal the keg well) to ferment.

Based on the aroma, we expect this batch to be wonderful. With a two-week turnaround (kegs are so nice), we might be making more of this soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brewing Update

We do, in fact, have a batch brewing at the moment. It's "Phat Fired Weizenbock" (p.195), with slight modifications. Marco has the details, as well as a story of his own.

Email Sent to Marco on Thursday the 18th at 10:46PM

[Note: One instance of bad language appears in the following. You have been warned.]

Allow me to paint a picture.

This evening, I go downstairs to start a load of laundry. There's a faint smell of beer in the laundry room. "That doesn't seem right," I remark to myself. I look at the floor, and there's a small puddle of mostly-dry beer beside the refrigerator. I open the door, to discover that beer is slowly foaming out of the ball lock of my keg. This is the old keg -- Rocky II. I, of course, immediately begin cleaning up the spill, and get my laundry in the wash.

Now, let's elaborate on the current scene. I have two kegs. One has been in the fridge for awhile, is almost empty, and has just started (based on the amount of spilled beer and the observed rate of, shall we say, foamage) to express homebrew. The other has been at cellar temperature for a little over a month, is almost empty, and is attached to a cobra tap, the only one I have. No seepage has ensued in keg number two.

The logical course of action was to fetch a fine mug with a handle, tap a beer from keg number two, consume, and repeat. The idea was to tap out the second keg, and then move the cobra tap to the first keg. It was a fool-proof plan, and I'm fool enough to prove it.

What I had not considered was that there was more Rocky III than Rocky II. After either four or five beers (I'm not actually sure which), the laundry was done, bedtime was approaching, and I was experiencing a mild case of fuckedupitude. Nothing severe, mind you -- certainly not vomitous (nor anywhere near), but enough to expect a suppression of REM sleep.

The end result stands at: Rocky III is tantalizingly close to being tapped out. There might, in fact, be comparable amounts of both batches remaining. The cobra tap has been moved to Rocky II, and Rocky III has been placed in the container I use to hold the blow-off bucket, which is identical to the container that I use to store my brewing odds and ends. That way, if there's seepage from keg number two, it will be contained in an easily cleaned vessel. Keg number one, in turn, has the cobra tap, which should provide an extra level of protection against a repeat of the leakage that prompted this whole "drinking" exercise.

Our story concludes now. I hope that it was mostly coherent, largely correct in both spelling and grammar, and at least slightly entertaining.